Contributed by Mr. C.I. Sivasubramanian
This is typically an European/American festival. Halloween is a festival celebrated on the 31st October of each year. The festival includes activities such as ‘trick or treat’, costume parties, jack – o’ lanterns, bonfires, telling horror stories etc. It has its origin in Scotland and later transported to Americas when the migrants went over there. It is very popular in the American continent now. As many other customs, this festival is slowly and steadily percolating to India.
Trick or treat is an activity practiced exclusively by children who go from house to house asking for treats like candy. They dress up in special horror costumes in black. The costumes are usually modeled on ghosts, skeletons and sometimes fictional characters; the whole idea is to threaten people – more as a joke.
The phrase trick or treat refers a mild threat that if there is no treat they will perform some mischief on the house owners or their property. Usually the house owners keep a stock of candies to be given away whenever children knock on the door, usually after dark.
The children play several games like trying to eat an apple floating on a basin of water without using hands, or holding a fork in the mouth and trying to take the apple. Another game is to divine one’s future spouse. Unmarried girls are asked to gaze at a mirror on Halloween night when their spouse’s picture is supposed to appear! Also telling of horror stories and viewing of horror films is a common feature.
The holiday comes in the wake of apple harvest and it is customary to treat children with apples dipped in syrup.